Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova eager for 2016 semifinal rematch

Serena Williams marched into the semifinals of the US Open for the ninth consecutive time with an assured 6-4 6-3 win over eighth seed Karolina Pliskova Tuesday.

"I was playing really not a good game", said Williams, who was a point from trailing 4-1 and did fall behind 4-2 while making 22 of her 30 unforced errors in the first set.

She has never played Anastasija Sevastova before.

Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball during the women's singles quarter-final match against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic on Day Nine of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

"I was thinking, 'You know, I can play better.' So that was the good news".

In other words: It's time to stop hedging predictions and start expecting Williams to win this tournament and tie Margaret Court's all-time record for major wins.

After the match, Stephens refused to blame the heat - or the sinus infection she said she has been playing with since Monday - and instead cited her failure to take advantage of early opportunities to get ahead on Sevastova's serve.

Pliskova had inflicted the last defeat on the 23-time Grand Slam champion in these parts, taking her out in the semi-finals in 2016, but her failure to convert break points to move 5-2 up proved costly.

"Well, I want to just be able to get past the semis here".

That last comment brought laughter from the assembled reporters, given Sevastova's tendency to play drop shots and vary her angle of attack on a regular basis.

But she trailed by a break in the opening set, and then was a point from being behind 4-1, before turning things around.

However, Williams responded in magnificent fashion, reeling off eight successive games on her way to an ultimately dominant victory. She put a backhand into the net to get broken to 2-1 at the outset.

The 28-year-old ultimately converted her third match point to advance to her first Grand Slam semifinal.

"He's a close friend on tour, a great guy and I wish him the very best. he is young and has plenty of time to win tournaments".

Williams and Stephens first have to win quarterfinal matches Tuesday. "A year ago, I was fighting for, literally, my life at the hospital after I had the baby", Williams said, her voice wavering. Williams has carried out thirteen aces and made 5 double faults and carried out 4 break factors out of seven.

The next two games were total demolition from the American not giving the Czech any breathing space, having broke Pliskova's serve to love and holding on to her own serve in similar devastating fashion.

Williams reached her 36th Grand Slam semifinal and her 12th at Flushing Meadows, where she is a six-time champion.

  • Steve Townsend